Elected unopposed Sunday as president of the opposition faction he leads, Morgan Tsvangirai vowed to achieve full democratic rule, further promising to step down from his post in five years - a nod to critics who say that he has a dictatorial style.
Tsvangirai urged Zimbabweans to unite and protest peacefully to confront President Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Congress-Patriotic Front which has governed the country since independence 26 years ago.
Political observers said Tsvangirai’s new team looks capable of challenging President Mugabe’s grip on power. His leadership cadre includes Thokozana Khupe in the vice presidential slot, Isaac Matongo as chairman with Lovemore Moyo as his deputy, and Tendai Biti as secretary general backed up by Tapiwa Mashakada.
Congress delegates elected former farmer and parliamentarian Roy Bennett treasurer in absentia. Former Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri is organizing secretary and Nelson Chamisa was selected as spokesman for the opposition faction. Lucia Matibenga was re-elected women’s chairwoman and Thamsanga Mahlangu youth chairman.
Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe looked into the significance of the congress, held at a time of deep division in the once united opposition.
For a broader perspective, Studio 7 reporter Carole Gombakomba turned to analyst Felix Mafa, executive director of the Post-Independence Survival Trust.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo police raided the offices of the so-called pro-senate opposition faction based there. Officers reportedly told onlookers they were searching for "arms of war." The incursion followed a rally organized by faction leader Arthur Mutambara at the city's sports stadium on Sunday. Babongile Dlamini filed a report.